A child’s right to maintain the integrity of his/her healthy
body should not be violated
August 16, 2005
Circumcision, or for non-believers "genital
one of the most ancient rituals still practiced in some societies.
Historical background of this old ritual; as to when and who and
why it started
is not precisely known. The practice varies from region
to region and from epoch to epoch in its total or partial removal
of the foreskin/clitoris
for both sexes.
However it is believed that circumcision,
in its different forms, was practiced all around the world. The
Jews were the first to adapt circumcision, mentioned in the Old
Testament as a religious ritual and preserved its practice
into our times. Circumcision was banned by the ancient
Romans and Greeks. Also the early Christians took a strong stand
Despite many modern anti-circumcision movements, circumcision
is practiced worldwide, in the Islamic societies, in some old tribes
in Africa, in some native tribes of Australia and since 19th century,
occasionally, in the US.
Benefits of circumcision are supposed to maintain the genital
organ in hygienic conditions for male and to reduce the sexual
lust for female.
Removal of a functional, sensitive, healthy and normal foreskin
or clitoris with many nerve fibres, nerve endings, strictly speaking
is an amputation. Medically speaking, it has no relevant healthy
benefits that can objectively be used to justify its practice.
And as such, it violates the principles of ethnics and the principles
The law should respect parent’s "ownership
rights" over their children to protect them, namely to the
extent where all their decisions are in the child’s benefits.
But they have no right abusing constitutional guarantees of freedom
of religion to
inculcate a particular religion or ritual practice into their
children. A child’s right to maintain the integrity of his/her
healthy body should not be violated.
Doctors, as modern circumcisers, cutting off a functional healthy
and normal part of human body are doing a business which is in
contradiction to their professional rights. This is akin to remove
an eyelid which protects the eye or to cut off a finger of a child.
Circumcision would have died out long ago, along with leeching,
skull-drilling, and castration, if it was frankly motivated by
purely medical reasons. The fact is that the "reasons" were
later invented and stereotyped to justify the ritual act of circumcision.
Religious mission is to avoid rising general awareness about
the scientific reasons, and in this case, about the risk of circumcision.
The advisability given about circumcision, contrary to immunisation,
is merely rooted in cultural customs, religious and social myths,
but not in therapeutic reasons.
The foreskin protects the glands of sexual organs. Thus the foreskin
is an essential part of human sexual anatomy. The foreskin is a
sensitive, functional organ with a rich concentration of blood
vessels and nerve endings to keep the glands soft, moist and sensitive.
The general studies have proved that all individuals, regardless
of religion or gender, who have genital cutting imposed upon them
as unconsenting children, bear different degrees of physical, sexual
or psychological wounding. The cutting is mostly the first painful
bloody trauma for a child. Many people from circumcising cultures
can attest to the harm this practice inflicted on them.
Religious and cultural influence reinforces denial of these consequences
and makes it, with all means, taboo for people to talk openly about
their harm. The fact that religious pressure forces people to adapt
to and cope with this wounding or to remain silent, does not justify
No medical evidence about the effectiveness of this wounding
in reducing the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or considerable effectiveness
of penile cancer or genital diseases has been proved.
No health organisation in the world currently accepts circumcision
as a preventive procedure and advocates its practice for both sexes;
even if female circumcision is in some areas absent, it is immorally
perverse to excuse one cruelty by invoking a worse one. The genitals
of both sexes, as the products of evolution, should be left intact.
Since 1996 female circumcision has been considered violence against
women in the US. And has become illegal however cutting away a
part or a young girl’s entire clitoris is a ritual practice
in parts of Islamic Africa.
The legitimisation of this painful barbaric act, which can rarely
be imagined without shuddering or being sick, is mentioned in a
Hadith reported by Umm’Atiyya: "A female circumciser
in Madineh was told by the Prophet of Islam, "When you circumcise,
do not cut a big part of clitoris as that is better for a woman
and more desirable for her husband."
The above narration, ignoring the image of pain and sufferance,
is one of the fundamental religious sources, allowing not only
circumcision of boys (Khitan), but also circumcision of girls (Khafd)
For less conservative Islamic scholars, the narration is a "modest" reason
that only the outer part of the clitoris should be cut off and
not as is done in some other African Muslim countries cutting off
all the clitoris.
However, even the "modest" image of removal of the
prepuce of a young girl’s clitoris is still odious enough
to call it a barbaric maiming of innocent girls and the despoiling
of the ability to enjoy the sexuality that means so much more than
Beside the idea of reducing all of the female extra-marital affairs,
another dominant idea of female circumcision has been claimed to
diminish the risk of rape. As such, the entire clitoris is cut
off. The tissue are then sewn together, leaving a narrow hole for
the flow of urine or menstrual blood (a second procedure is necessary
to allow the sexual intercourse, even painfully). This typical
misogynous idea does not consider the male rapist as the main culprit,
but implicitly the female uncircumcised victim!
Degree of brutality of female circumcision brought some of the
Islamic scholars to modify their judgement about performance of
its practice, arguing that female circumcision has been regarded
by the Prophet as an act of merit, not as an obligation, which
is the reason that it is less practiced than male circumcision
in the Islamic societies.
Circumcision however is not mentioned in the Koran and has been
initially an important act of purification (Taharah/Taharat) to
be practiced by both sexes. This has been referred by a narration
from the Prophet, which classifies circumcision as one of the five
acts of Fitrah(purification), as shaving the public hair, trimming
the moustaches, clipping the nails, plucking the armpit hairs .
Circumcision was imposed on Iranians through the Islamic invasion.
(The preislamic Iranians, Zoroastrians, were not circumcised).
Circumcision for both sexes, along with female infanticide, was
old tribal traditions practiced by the primitive patriarchal pagans
in Arabian. Islam adopted the circumcision and changed its status
into a religious ritual. And as such was imposed upon the territories,
as Iran, occupied by the Islamic troupes.
Female circumcision, apart from some cases in southern areas,
is not practiced in Iran, but the Shi'ite sect considers male circumcision
obligatory and tends to lean the extreme side on the issue.
Associated with a typical ceremony (Khatneh Soorun), a reminder
of a sacrificial ceremony, the Islamic circumcision is in perfect
harmony with the feast of the sacrifice in Islam.
Sacrifice like cannibalism and infanticide is older than all
main monotheist religions. It has been an act of worship. Human/
animal sacrifice was a routine ritual ceremony, in which young
were killed to please their gods or spirit. In exchange for the
wanton sacrifice, the human victims were baptised martyrs and were
promised holly rewards like the paradise in the next world.
The human victim was not only offered to satisfy the gods and
consequently the group, but as a martyr, became a promoted status
of sacred. This concept of divine victim is very similar to the
concept of martyrdom in Shiism.
At the early ancient cultures human/animal sacrifice was a routine
ritual in times of natural disaster; even for the rise of the sun
a person should be sacrificed.
Human sacrifice or mutilation still happens today as in underground
practice in some traditional religions in some cultures in South
The occasions of human sacrifice and human mutilations are associated
with some ritual ceremonies. In ancient Egypt, less brutal than
widow-burial, ceremonial, sacrificial circumcision, for both sexes,
was practiced to please their god of fertility.
In ancient Mesopotamian there were ritual festivities in which
the genital organ of a young boy was brutally cut off and was offered
to the goddess of fertility.
Some scholars believe that all of the monotheist Prophets were
born circumcised, while some others claim that Prophet Abraham
was the first to practice (self)circumcision to please Allah." today’s
judgement about such an act can be reduced to the rank of pathology".
Another aspect of circumcision besides the purification and the
sacrificial character, can be regarded as an act of punishment
(a means of humiliating to mark captured enemies and slaves, or
as a patriarchal means was in its origin an injury to the mother
reducing her authority over her child).
The punishment which very often means ritual purification is
attributed to tone down sexual pleasure. Human sexuality has been
seen in many primitive cultures as dirty or impure and needs ritual
purification, Circumcision, in this case, was the obvious way to "purify" someone.
Circumcision in Sharia is an order to cut the skin that covers
the male genital and/or to cut the upper end of the skin that covers
the clitoris on the female genital part. It has been considered
by many Islamic judges that circumcision is compulsory on both
males and females.
Considering the case of the Abraham’s self-circumcision,
to be believed or not, it reflexes that a very important combined
factor of circumcision is to be self-injury, a pathological practice
to relieve overwhelming emotional tension. It can be practiced
from a little common cut of skin to self-flagellation or self-stabbing.
Ritual practice of self-injury is a usually symbolic act. It
connects the individual to the group or community.
Some practices like piercing and tattoos, or like in this case
circumcision are also socially preconditioned. These practices
are done to identify with a particular group. The social respect
of collective practice can be also a practice of self-injury like
circumcision, and is socially approved.
The self-injury in its ritual practice often focuses on the sexual
organs and can be regarded as a copy mechanism for the origin of
To conclude my article and my purpose, I point out the following
- Circumcision, an old practice, has no clear references concerning
its history, motive and origin.
- Circumcision is a ritual practice of primitive cultures and
can be rooted in the factors of sexual punishment, ritual sacrifice
- Circumcision has no preventive or medical benefits.
- Circumcision, as an act of genital mutilation for both sexes,
is morally not acceptable >>> Persian translation